Archive for May, 2012

Twenty-One Pietragallo Law Firm Lawyers Named Pennsylvania Super Lawyers

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

PietragalloWilliam Pietragallo, II, founding partner of the law firm of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick and Raspanti, LLP was selected as a Pittsburgh Top 50 Lawyer by Super Lawyers 2012.  Marc S. Raspanti, partner in the law firm of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick and Raspanti, LLP, was selected as a Philadelphia Top 100 Lawyer and a Top 100 Lawyer in Pennsylvania by Super Lawyers 2012.  These designations are awarded to lawyers who received the highest point totals in the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers 2012 nomination, research and blue ribbon review process. 

Twenty-one firm attorneys were also named by the publication as 2012 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers.  In addition to Pietragallo and Raspanti, the following firm counsel were recognized by the publication as 2012 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Gaetan J. Alfano, Joseph J. Bosick, Mark Gordon, P. Brennan Hart, James W. Kraus, Joseph D. Mancano, Francis E. Pipak, Jr., Kevin E. Raphael, Eric P. Reif, Eric G. Soller, Clem C. Trischler and Paul K. Vey.  The following firm attorneys were recognized as 2012 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Rising Stars, Kathryn M. Kenyon, Ryan J. King, James F. Marrion, Daniel J. McGravey, Michael A. Morse, Christopher A. Iacono and Douglas K. Rosenblum.  Selection as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer is an honor reserved for only 5% of the Pennsylvania Bar.  The arduous selection process encompasses a strict nomination, research and review process.

Mr. Pietragallo is a founding partner of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP.  Recognized as an accomplished trial attorney, he is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a Diplomat of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.  Mr. Pietragallo was named “Lawyer of the Year for 2012” for Bet-the-Company Litigation by Best Lawyers in America.  He is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America for ‘Commercial Litigation’ and ‘Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants’ for 2012.

Mr. Pietragallo received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.  He graduated from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and also studied abroad, attending Loyola University of Rome in Italy.  He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, and has been specially admitted to the Courts of over 20 other states, as well as the Third, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Mr. Raspanti is a partner of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP.  Recognized as one of the most successful, skilled and experienced qui tam attorneys in the United States.   Since 1989, Mr. Raspanti has litigated many of the most complex and important cases in the history of the federal False Claims Act.  He has served as lead counsel for whistleblowers in false claims cases that have resulted in over $1.6 billion in recoveries for federal and state taxpayers.  He focuses his practice on federal and state qui tam litigation, white collar criminal defense, criminal and civil health care fraud defense, internal corporate investigations, compliance, professional licensing litigation and complex civil litigation.

Mr. Raspanti received his B.A. from Villanova University and his J.D. from Temple University School of Law.  He frequently speaks, writes, lectures and comments on white collar and health care fraud issues throughout the country.

Marc Raspanti Quoted In Connection With $11 Billion False Claims Act Suit Against For-Profit Education Company

Friday, May 18th, 2012

RaspantiThe United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has allowed a False Claims Act suit against Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. to proceed.  The complaint, which was originally brought by two whistleblowers, alleged that Education Management Corporation had violated the Higher Education Act’s prohibition on paying incentives to college recruiters based on the number of students they are able to recruit to an educational institution.  The whistleblowers charged that the company’s compensation plan, as written, violated the Higher Education Act and that the manner in which the plan was actually implemented violated the Act, as well.  The United States government joined in the second aspect of the whistleblowers’ complaint.

Education Management Corp. sought to dismiss the entire suit.  In its opinion addressing the company’s motion to dismiss, the District Court stated that this was a “massive and complex case.”  While the Court found that the compensation plan, on its face, appeared to comply with the Higher Education Act, it allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their allegations that the company violated the Act by the manner in which the plan was actually implemented.  According to the Court, the allegations that it was allowing to proceed charged that Education Management Corp. executives made a knowing decision to perpetuate a companywide “sham” to conceal prohibited compensation practices. 

As the District Court explained in its opinion, the prohibition on providing recruiters with incentive compensation was passed by Congress in 1992 after an investigation into school’s abuse of federal student-loan programs which guarantee that the institution will be paid.  If the student does not repay the money owed, though, the costs of that default are passed on to the taxpayers.  The prohibition was intended to avoid the risk that recruiters, who might otherwise be paid based upon the number of students they brought to the institution, would enroll poorly qualified students who would obtain little benefit from the subsidy and may be unwilling or unable to repay the federally-guaranteed loan.  The Court noted that the annual federal student loans brought in by Education Management Corp. went from $656 million in 2003 to $2.578 billion in 2010. 

In commenting on this case, Marc Raspanti an attorney with Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP who specializes in qui tam litigation, stated, “these are interesting, somewhat cutting-edge and certainly complex theories of liability.”  Mr. Raspanti also noted that the Western District of Pennsylvania has typically not seen a great deal of qui tam litigation and that “Mr. Hickton (the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania who as sworn in in 2010) is obviously changing the focus of that office.” 

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New York Hospital Agrees to Pay $11.75 Million to Settle Overbilling Allegations

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has announced that Lenox Hill Hospital will pay $11.75 million dollars to settle a civil health care fraud lawsuit. 

The federal government accused Lenox Hospital of fraudulently inflating its charges for services provided to Medicare patients in order to obtain higher supplemental reimbursements that Medicare pays to health care providers in cases where the cost of care is unusually high.  Specifically, between February 2002 and August 2003, the hospital raised room and board charges and manipulated its overall charge structure to make it appear as if the treatment given to certain patients was unusually costly when, in fact, it was not.  As a result, the hospital received Medicare payments it would not have otherwise obtained. 

In announcing the settlement, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York stated that his office would remain vigilant in protecting the integrity of the Medicare program and recovering taxpayer funds from health care institutions that fail to comply with Medicare regulations. 

Lenox Hospital is to pay the amount required under the settlement by May 14, 2012.

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Dialysis Center Agrees to Pay $4.36 Million to Settle Allegations that it Overbilled for Physician Services

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

On May 3, 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee announced that a number of dialysis centers in the Knoxville, Tennessee area had agreed to pay $4.36 million to resolve allegations that they had violated the federal False Claims Act, the Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act and other federal and state laws and regulations.

An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, FBI, area federal prosecutors, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and the Tennessee Valley Authority Office of Inspector General revealed that from at least 2001 through 2006, Apex Medical Group, doing business as Nephrology Consultants and affiliated dialysis centers had submitted inaccurate claims to government health programs, including Medicare and TennCare, for a variety of dialysis services.  These inaccurate requests for payment took the form of upcoding for physician services whereby a medical provider submits a bill for a particular procedure when a less expensive type of treatment was actually provided.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Apex Medical Group has agreed to compensate the federal and state governments for its improper billing practices.

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Abbott Labs Pleads Guilty to Charges Arising Out of its Promotion of Depakote

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

On May 7, 2012, the Justice Department announced that Abbott Laboratories, Inc. has pled guilty to allegations arising out of its promotion of the prescription drug, Depakote. 

Abbott Labs was charged with promoting the drug for uses which had not been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.  In addition to pleading guilty, Abbott Labs has also agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability.  The $1.5 billion payment, the second largest by a drug company, is made up of a criminal fine and forfeiture of $700 million and civil settlements with federal and state governments in the amount of $800 million. 

Furthermore, Abbott Labs will be subject to court-supervised probation and Abbott Labs’ CEO and Board of Directors will be required to satisfy certain reporting requirements.

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Sacramento Public Library Whistleblower Settles Suit for $343,000

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

In April 2012, Diane Boerman a senior accounts clerk at the Sacramento Public Library reached a $343,000 confidential settlement in her retaliation lawsuit against the library.  Boerman blew the whistle on a kickback scheme that ultimately sent three people to prison. The settlement was approved in secret by the library’s board of directors in a March 22, 2012 executive session, but wasn’t finalized until April. 

Boerman presented suspicious billing activity that she discovered to the library’s previous administration.  She claimed that she was ignored by former library director Anne Marie Gold.  Besides not acting on her concerns Boerman also claims that her bosses denied her promotions, pay raises, and “generally made her life miserable.” 

Boerman first brought her concerns to her supervisors in April 2004.  After she was rebuffed by her bosses, she published a series of articles that prompted investigations by the grand jury and the District Attorney’s Office.

Former library director, Gold retired in 2008 amid the Sacramento County Grand Jury investigation into mismanagement of the agency.

The District Attorney’s investigation uncovered an estimated 1,400 padded invoices that cost the library $800,000.  It led to criminal charges against two library officials, facilities director Dennis Nilsson, 65, and security chief James E. Mayle, 67, as well as Mayle’s wife, Janie Rankins-Mayle, 63, who had set up a billing company to handle the maintenance accounts.  All three were convicted earlier this year and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five years and four months to 14 years.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner later ordered the defendants to pay $800,000 in restitution.  Another hearing is scheduled for May 11, 2012 on the district attorney’s request to have a receiver appointed to try to recover the money.

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